Q&A webinar #18: Migrants and COVID-19 – Emerging Practices

Please see below the questions and comments from the audience. We invite you all to send your comments and let us know if you have any further questions on the topic.


Question 1: What are the various components of Social Protection programme implementation framework? How do we interact with the various components of the framework, in a COVID-19 endemic state?

A broader definition of social protection by the International Labour Organization (ILO) is “a set of policies and programmes aimed at preventing and protecting all people against poverty, vulnerability and social exclusion throughout their life-course”. Panellist from IOM (Virginia Negro) believes that in the present state of the pandemic, governments have to insist upon: 

  1. Social insurance schemes (mainly unemployment schemes and universal health access)
  2. Basic income security access
  3. Labour market programs (focusing on skills building, matching programmes, labour market regulation)

A comprehensive framework to explore how various countries are using their existing social protection systems to address the COVID-19 pandemic was presented in the webinar entitled ‘How can social protection systems respond to the COVID-19 crisis?’. This was the second event of the Social protection responses to COVID-19 webinar series and can be reviewed for more detailed information on each component of the framework.


Question 2: What are the innovative emerging practices in the implementation of SP policies, with populations displaced by insurgency, for instance in Northern Nigeria. How will the SP implementation framework be modified to accommodate this?

Virgina Negro (IOM): In this moment, countries and regions such as Mexico and Central America need to universalize health care in a sustainable way: the principle of “from each according to their ability to pay and to each according to their health needs”(ILO) can be applied to expand coverage particularly to those targets not covered by formal contributory health insurance. These types of schemes generally incorporate both public and private sector entities such as service providers within a regulatory framework for reimbursement or compensation designed to reduce costs.

To improve social protection schemes in a long-term sustainable way is necessary in order to create a partnership between community-based organizations, government agencies and private sector actors. Of course, there are many countries where cash transfer programmes are important as a shock solution, but we have to make them more integrative and with long-term results. I think that to design this kind of policy it is fundamental to study the local context and engage people in the policy-making process.

Question 3: For Rajeev – Has there been an analysis of why there are more women participating in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NEGRA)?

The mandated participation of women in MGNREGA according to the Act is 33%, however, more than 50% is achieved every year. This is not uniform across India. It depends firstly on the existing rural wage rates across various India states. For example, the rural wages in the southern states for construction and other works are almost triple of the MGNREGA wage rate. Hence, the men especially do not find MGNREGA attractive here as they get better wages outside. Men also migrate to other rural and urban areas in search of work and better incomes. Women, on the other hand, are either those who were predominantly homemakers or worked as agricultural labourers, where the work is seasonal. MGNREGA has either provided them with a new work opportunity or has helped them bridged the seasonality gap, with the provision of 100 days of MGNREGA work. Hence, women participation in MGNREGA in these states is about 75-90%. This pattern replicates in the north-eastern states, where women participation is comparatively high. In the northern states, due to socio-cultural factors, women participation is around 30-50%.

Further reading:

  1. https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_emp/documents/publication/wcms_613735.pdf
  2. https://www.giz.de/en/downloads/Working%20Paper%20-%20An%20Introduction%20to%20MGNREGA%20Innovations%20and%20their%20Potential%20for%20India-Africa%20Linkages.pdf


Question 4: For Rajeev – I think one more challenge is how to graduate the employment schemes to address enhancing ecosystem resilience capacity, as you mentioned, there will be additional stress on resources. What is your take?

Yes, this is true. Speaking of MGNREGA, it is primarily a wage employment programme, where the key focus is to act as a safety net for the poor through the 100 days of guaranteed employment in a year. However, given the equally important livelihood focus of the scheme, the programme now has a focus on augmenting natural resource management. The expenditure from recent years shows that more than 60% of the annual budget is spent on improving water, soil and land resources. There are many states which use MGNREGA for very concentrated actions such as drought proofing, afforestation, reducing soil erosion etc. Given the flexibility of the scheme and the scope it offers in terms of convergence and collaboration with other programmes, there is the scope and potential to develop systemic approaches for enhancing ecosystem resilience through MGNREGA.


Social Protection Approaches: